We have had a few snow showers, one with snowflakes about an inch and a quarter across, although the snow had gone from the ground an hour later but some sun as well and it is cold. It's not freezing but there is a strong cold wind at the moment. The weather forecast is that it will start warming up again on Monday with more sun. I hope they're right – I want to get out and about again.
We are starting to talk about our trips for this year. The only one which is set in stone at present is a short trip, two nights, in Lavenham, Suffolk at the end of April. Lavenham, an amazing small medieval market town of timber-framed buildings, is already featured on the web site but we like the place very much and one can always get more and better photographs.
Other planned ‘week long’ trips are:
Stamford – supposedly ‘one of the nicest stone towns in England’ featuring small cobbled lanes leading into open squares and a number of medieval churches. We shall see if the reality matches the rhetoric. It does have a river and, on the other side of the river, Burghley House – an Elizabethan Stately Home built in the late 1500s.
Lincoln – A small city with a cathedral, a medieval Bishop’s Palace, a river and a Norman castle.
Peterborough (possibly) with it’s cathedral.
Rye – One of the Cinque Ports but now 2 miles inland with a 12th century church, castle and the old town wall. We have been to Rye, many years ago, before the web site was started so it’s time for a re-visit with photographs this time.
The South Downs including the Seven Sisters and Birling Gap.
Wells – The smallest city in England with a wonderful cathedral.
The Mendip Hills including Cheddar Gorge and Burrington Combe.
There will also be some day trips and possible destinations for those are:
Saffron Walden and Audley End House, Essex
Stisted, Essex (Village and Bluebell wood)
Dunwich Heath and Coast, Suffolk
Orford (Castle), Suffolk
Cambridge, particularly Grantchester, Cambridgeshire
The order and times for all these have not been fixed yet and some, or all, of them may be arranged at the very last minute mostly decided by the weather forecast. All are subject to change.
Some of the hotels at which we will be staying may have broadband access so that I may be able to make some posts on the Blog whilst we are away but some hotels will not.
If anyone wants to make comments about this then please feel free.
It was sunny and mild this morning so we drove to Tiptree Heath, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), for a walk round.
The Gorse (Ulex europaeus) is starting to flower although not yet at it’s best.
Gorse is typical of heathland as is Heather and, although heather does not flower until around July, the three types of Heather found in Great Britain all occur here. They are Bell Heather (Erica cinerea), Cross-leaved Heath (Erica tetralix) and, the most common, Ling (Calluna vulgaris) otherwise known as Common Heather.
We found a little pond hidden away in part of the woodland area which hosted a large amount of Norfolk Reed – the light straw coloured stuff on the far side of the water.
There were also a large number of green shoots sprouting from the surrounding earth which could very well be Flag Iris so we will have to go back around May to see if they are in flower.
In another part of the woodland we saw some Witches Broom, a type of gall caused by a mite, which you should be able to see in this picture as small clumps which look like birds nests.
The Witches Broom is a bit more obvious in this picture.
I’ll finish off with a view of one of the open areas of the heath.
All in all a nice little walk.
You may, or may not, have heard of the Collar Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) which started off as a resident of India and then decided to take over the world. It started spreading outwards and reached Britain in 1955 breeding in North Norfolk for the first time. We certainly see it in our garden, frequently in considerable numbers, and they are often to be seen sunning themselves in the morning in one of our trees.
The weather recently has been pleasantly mild and sunny for February although we have had a slight frost in the early morning. I understand that the average temperatures for January were the highest since 1916.
So before people out there start jumping up and down and screaming “Global warming” remember that the temperatures were as high in 1916 and there wasn’t anything like as much air pollution then – very, very few cars for example.
We are hoping to go out soon ‘Wild Snowdrop’ spotting. I’ll let you know if we see any.
Yesterday was probably the worst for wind. A gale was forecast and a gale we had! There is now a large opening in one of our greenhouses where there was once a large sheet of glass, some of the felt roof has been ripped from one of our sheds and we have a rather drunken looking tree which will now have to be taken down. Only minor damage really when one considers what happened to the rest of England.
We have not had any really cold weather yet this winter. We had 3 or four days with a heavy frost just before Christmas but other than that it has been generally very mild.
We have, naturally, started talking about this years trips and a possible 3 day trip to Peterborough (wonderful cathedral) has turned into a week to include Stamford and Lincoln (another wonderful cathedral). Sussex, Dorset and Somerset (Wells, Mendip Hills, Cheddar Gorge, Glastonbury) were also mentioned but it's unlikely that we can go to all three counties.
Yesterday, Boxing Day, we decided that we needed a walk in the fresh air so we drove to Tollesbury to walk on the sea wall to Shingle Head Point.
The weather was at least dry but the sky was overcast in a uniform grey layer of thick cloud, together with a slight mist, making conditions rather gloomy. It was cold, but above freezing, and there was virtually no wind which is a good thing when one is walking a the sea wall above the salt-marshes with no protection from the weather at all.
The tide was out leaving large expanses of mud exposed and we saw a number of waders (birds) walking about on the mud searching for food. On the other side of the sea wall, on the marshes, there were large numbers of Brent Geese grazing. We could not see them at first but could easily hear them chatting among themselves.
We reached Shingle Head Point and looking across the point could see the town of West Mersea on the other side of the River Blackwater.
You should just be able to see, through the gloom, the light strip of buildings at West Mersea below the tree line.
Turning around and facing inland we could see the buildings at Tollesbury which is where we started. You may notice some barely discernable shapes on the marsh in the distance – grazing cattle.
Conditions were quite different from when we first did this walk. England is not always sun and blue skies.
On our way back something must have disturbed the Brent Geese and they took off in two large flocks wheeling around the sky and, eventually, settled back down to where they started.
We, eventually, ended up back where we started and drove home. The weather may not have been wonderful but it's better than sitting in a comfortable armchair in front of a fire isn't it? Well – isn't it?
Until recently our weather has been very mild but on Tuesday morning we had a moderate frost. Then on Wednesday and today we have had a hard frost.
You should be able to see that there is frost all over our Weeping Willow branches. I think that I would weep if I was covered in frost like that. It's at times like this that I feel sorry for the birds – they have to sleep out in it. We do our best to put out food in this weather as they stand a much better chance of surviving a cold night with a full stomach especially the little ones.